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The Long View

Predictable: The behavior of world leaders from era to era

Eighty years ago, on Sept.1, 1939, World War II began with a bang, an unprovoked Nazi German invasion of Poland, a blitzkrieg that produced shock and awe and featured such uneven combat as German Panzer tanks routing Polish horse cavalry. 

The onset of World War II was a momentous event, yet today in America little note is taken of it. Young Americans wonder what it has to do with their lives, and why they should bother studying it. 

When dictators met: Hitler and Mussolini at the Brenner Pass

When dictators confer at an important juncture in history, the products are usually disinformation, bullying and dashed expectations.   

A classic example of such a meeting occurred during the “phony war,” that period between September of 1939 and May of 1940 characterized by a battlefield lull in the fighting between the Allies and the Third Reich. 

When dictators meet: Hitler and Mussolini at the Brenner Pass

When dictators confer at an important juncture in history, the products are usually disinformation, bullying and dashed expectations.   

A classic example of such a meeting occurred during the “phony war,” that period between September of 1939 and May of 1940 characterized by a battlefield lull in the fighting between the Allies and the Third Reich. 

Lessons for today: the lead-in to the ‘phony war’

The 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in September 1939 approaches, and merits special efforts to remember it, because how that war began has renewed relevance today, as Europe is roiled by internal conflicts, right-wing factions are increasing their power, and NATO is being weakened. 

Lessons for today: The lead-in to the ‘phony war’

The 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in September 1939 approaches, and merits special efforts to remember it, because how that war began has renewed relevance today, as Europe is roiled by internal conflicts, right-wing factions are increasing their power, and NATO is being weakened. 

The United States vs. France: contrasting two revolutions

The closeness in dates of the American and French national revolutionary celebrations, July 4, Independence Day in America, and July 14, Bastille Day in France, seems particularly relevant this year. For as long as the U.S. has been in existence, people have been trying to understand the similarities and differences between those revolutions. In studying the period for a while, a few points jump out at me. 

James Madison as applied to Donald Trump

History is written to understand the past but it is composed in the present and cannot escape that context. Sometimes, the relevance is startling. In research for a new book about the Revolutionary Era, I came across a James Madison essay that struck me as a trenchant critique of the Trumpian attitude toward governing the American people. It is a dialogue between a “republican,” by which Madison meant a person who championed the spirit of the American Revolution and democracy, and an “anti-republican,” who did not.

James Madison essay: On Donald Trump?

History is written to understand the past but it is composed in the present and cannot escape that context. Sometimes, the relevance is startling. In research for a new book about the Revolutionary Era, I came across a James Madison essay that struck me as a trenchant critique of the Trumpian attitude toward governing the American people. It is a dialogue between a “republican,” by which Madison meant a person who championed the spirit of the American Revolution and democracy, and an “anti-republican,” who did not.

The Newtown massacre: a communal tragedy

As with everyone else, I am horrified by the recent massacre of 20 children and eight adults in Newtown. No words can really ameliorate, and perhaps none can adequately explain such a communal tragedy, but the publisher has asked me to offer a few thoughts. I do so based on two different sets of special knowledge that I have accumulated. One comes from my years of working with the Amish, and the other, from collaborating on three books with the world’s leading expert on serial killers, Robert K. Ressler.

Newtown massacre: a communal tragedy

As with everyone else, I am horrified by the recent massacre of 20 children and eight adults in Newtown, Conn. No words can really ameliorate, and perhaps none can adequately explain such a communal tragedy, but the publisher has asked me to offer a few thoughts. I do so based on two different sets of special knowledge that I have accumulated. One comes from my years of working with the Amish, and the other, from collaborating on three books with the world’s leading expert on serial killers, Robert K. Ressler.